Sept. 21, 2021

Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites receives NSF Phase II grant funding


The Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, known as CB2, which is co-located at NDSU, Iowa State University, Washington State University and the University of Georgia has been awarded Phase II of a National Science Foundation Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers Program grant. The new funding, along with contributions from industry partners, will total $1.95 million and be shared among the four collaborating universities that comprise the center.

The U.S. bioplastics industry is growing at a rate of 10 to 20% annually, which is higher than the growth rate of the traditional petroleum-based plastics industry. The rapid growth has created an interest among many industry partners in leveraging research efforts to accelerate the development of bioplastic and biocomposite products. The center is a five-year project that focuses on developing high-value biobased products from agricultural and forestry feedstocks for industry partners.

The center develops fundamental knowledge related to bioplastics and biocomposites, and disseminates research-based findings that promote sustainability to industry partners. At the same time, the center helps undergraduate and graduate students learn the skills needed to become tomorrow’s bioplastics scientists. More than 30 industry partners including Ford, Amazon, 3M, John Deere, Sherwin-Williams, Kimberly-Clark, AkzoNobel, ADM, Hyundai and BASF define and mentor research projects at the four CB2 sites.

“It has been great working with the four sites and 30-plus member companies over the last seven years and I am more than excited move to the next phase and see all of the great new sustainable technologies the researchers and industry partners will develop,” said David Grewell, CB2 founder/director and chair of the NDSU Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

As CB2’s lead institution, NDSU is responsible for overall operation of the center. Dean Webster, chair of the department of coatings and polymeric materials, is the NDSU site director.

Each CB2 site has a unique specialty. NDSU builds on the university’s long history of thermosetting polymer systems and applications, such as coatings and composites; Iowa State works on thermoplastics and polymers processing; Washington State University develops bio-based composite materials for infrastructure applications. The UGA team develops biologically-sourced and -degraded materials that are compostable in industrial and natural receiving environments for single-use packaging and consumer goods applications.

The goals for Phase II of the project are:

• Expand the science for recycling and end-of-life treatment of sustainable materials, in particular as they are mixed with petrochemical plastics.

• Engage additional companies that have expressed a need for recycling and end-of-life treatment.

• Develop fundamental knowledge on sustainable materials.

• Prepare students to join the workforce.

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